Religion In Times Of COVID: A Polish Story Of Mass Hypocrisy

The presence of the faithful at Mass, regardless of the threat to their health and lives, is essential for the Church to physically survive. And the state is an accomplice.

Churchgoers pray at St. Joseph's Cathedral
Churchgoers pray at St. Joseph's Cathedral
Eliza Michalik


WARSAW — We're going through another complete lockdown in Poland, which costs the economy 1.3 billion zlotys (280 million euros) a day — and churches are still open. What's more, before Christmas, the nation's Catholic bishops issued a statement encouraging the faithful to attend mass "out of concern for their health."

Unfortunately, they fail to mention what the "concern for health" is supposed to be, or what specifically should be done to preserve it. That's a pity, because I sure would like to know.

I don't understand the difference between attending Mass for health reasons, and having dinner in a restaurant, meeting with one's family, going to the movies or museums, or even going skiing. "Out of concern for one's health" ... whose health exactly?

I would very much like some representatives of the PiS ruling conservative party and the Church to explain this to me, because I really don't understand.

I must admit that such statements in the time of the third wave of the epidemic, in the face of a record number of deaths and the collapse of the health service, at a time when Polish businesses are falling into debt and going bankrupt, families facing poverty.

This is an exceptional impudence on the part of the Episcopate, even by its already flagrantly low standards. It is also an expression of a complete lack of attention to the world at large, a lack of sensitivity to the needs of not only its own believers but to the whole of society. This has been the case for too long with the Catholic Church in Poland, a complete egoism and lack of concern for anyone other than themselves and anything other than their own interests.

St. Joseph's Cathedral in Krakow, Poland — Photo: Dominika Zarzycka/NurPhoto/ZUMA

The reasons are, of course, clear. The attendance of the faithful at Mass, regardless of the risk to their health and lives, is essential for the Catholic Church to maintain its rituals so that this deeply sick institution can physically survive. When I say deeply sick institution, I mean an entity completely devoid of a deeper interiority and content, without values as its foundation — such as authenticity, truth and righteousness, respect for others, compassion and integrity.

I think that the Polish Catholic Church has been like that for a long time: empty, false, greedy and filled only with meaningless rituals and gestures, as well as discourses devoid of value. This explains why it needs the sacrifice of believers' lives to survive, because if they don't show up in churches, nothing will conceal the truth about this institution. The truth that the Polish Church has nothing to do with spirituality or God, but is an unscrupulous, cynical, greedy and law-ignoring soulless corporation, which is only interested in profit and its own survival.

It is outrageous, however, that the state authorities allow such a double standard, blatently supporting the idea that priests and the Church are above the law and tolerating this shocking lack of solidarity.

Indeed, solidarity is essential now more than ever, not only because it allows us to survive a pandemic, but because it is also pragmatic and egalitarian. Indeed, in a church, one gets infected just as much as in a cinema or a restaurant. Moreover, if shopkeepers and services providers are going bankrupt, the Church too could bear the discomfort of empty temples.

This hypocrisy also exposes the true intentions of the PiS party: If the government cared about citizens and their health and lives, it would close down the churches, just as it's closed everything else.

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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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